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Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Psychology of Product Adoption (46-slide PowerPoint presentation). Some innovations are truly spectacular, but consumers are slow or just refuse to adopt. In fact, over 70% of all new products fail in the marketplace--and innovative, new products fail at an even higher rate. Why is this the case? And, how do companies overcome this? This document discusses [read more]

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Performance in the workplace depends on two key factors: Behaviors and outcomes of Behaviors.

According to the Handbook of Human Performance Technology, Behaviors and their outcomes are the foundation of superior Human Performance. Typically, the impact of our activities reaches other individuals, information, objects, and “systems” (e.g., work flows, processes, practices, etc.).

Developed by Keith Stanovich, the GAP-ACT Model is a cognitive-behavioral therapy paradigm to help assess human thinking patterns, arousals, and behaviors.  The model analyzes Human Behavior in relation to Performance and emphasizes that humans control their perceptions of selected aspects of the world around them through their actions.

The GAP-ACT model is a combination of GAP and ACT models.  The GAP Model asserts that a problem with Performance can be stated as a discrepancy between actual and desired conditions.  The “G” in GAP represents the “Desired Goal.”  The “P” represents “Perceived Actual Condition.”  The point of intersection between “G” and “P” (the black dot) compares the two and represents the gap between them that needs to be bridged.  The letter “A” represents “Actions” of individuals.

The letter “T” in the ACT Model represents the “Targeted Variables” we attempt to alter or control, and for which we establish objectives.  The letter “A” represents the “Actions or Activities,” whereas the “C” represents the other “confounding conditions or circumstances” at play.

The GAP-ACT Model considers individuals to be “living control systems.” As living control systems, we have objectives that identify desired states for certain variables surrounding—or associated with—us.  We perceive these variables and form an opinion about them.  Our perceptions define for us the Actual Conditions.

If we want to control a variable in a certain state where it is not, we take action to bring our perception of this variable into alignment with our objectives or desired state for it.  However, our actions are influenced by other elements—e.g., the environment, others’ actions.  Our control is generally weak and exposed to distress from confusing circumstances.  The things that other people do can make our actions and thoughts more or less effective, depending on how they affect us.  Our activities may interfere with others attempts to manage their perceptions.

GAP-ACT Model states that individuals must manage and take responsibility for their own behaviors and Performance.  Managers, however, are responsible for the performance of others.  The role of management under the GAP-ACT Model is to direct organizational energy toward productive areas.

Managers are accountable for establishing objectives, allocating resources, determining priorities, analyzing progress, and channeling others actions.

In the process of influencing the behavior of others and its consequences on desired outcomes, managers often differ, or get at odds, with their direct reports.  To influence individuals’ behaviors and control their perceptions in ways that positively affect teams’ Performance, managers can work on 4 key “Avenues of Influence” of the GAP-ACT Model.

  1. Influencing Goals
  2. Influencing Perceptions
  3. Influencing Actions
  4. Influencing Circumstances

These avenues of influence help individuals think through problems and make rational decisions.  Let’s dive deeper into some of these avenues of influence.

Influencing Goals

The foremost Avenue of Influence pertains to support from the management in making people clearly appreciate the organization’s expectations of them and setting appropriate Performance objectives.

Mere communication of management’s expectations isn’t enough to motivate people towards achieving their objectives.  This leads the team members to assume that management has a profound understanding of the outcomes expected from them.  Employees in most organizations today, however, establish their own objectives.

Managers, in this case, should facilitate individual performers by mentoring them in establishing Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART) objectives.  They also need to eliminate any hurdles that might deter the team members from establishing SMART objectives.

Influencing Perceptions

The next Area of Influence deals with influencing the perceptions of employees to improve Performance.

Interested in learning more about the other Avenues of Influence of the GAP-ACT Model? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on GAP-ACT Model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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